Question # 181: I want to know what’s the best way to make dua’a and what I need to say to make it perfect, when I am speaking to Allah?
Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: The following are some of the Pre-conditions needed for du’aa:
- The realization that only Allah responds to du’aa, and if it is directed to other than Allah, becomes the greatest form of shirk;
- Du’aa should be continuous, and a person should avoid giving up du’aa just because it has not been responded to;
- It is essential that du’aa is for something pure and good;
- The person making du’aa should have the best of intentions for whatever he/she is asking;
- The person making du’aa should call out with a sincere heart to his Creator, as Allah does not respond to du’aa that originates from a negligent, inattentive heart; and
- Purity and lawfulness of one’s food.
The following are some of the etiquettes of Du’aa:
- Praising Allah before the Du’aa and Praying upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم);
- Raising hands to the level of the shoulder or around that level with palms facing upwards;
- Facing the Qiblah;
- Being in the state of Wudu;
- Pray with humility and fear;
- Praying quietly;
- Acknowledging one’s sins (a person du’aa asking for forgiveness should contain a pure and sincere acknowledgment of one’s deficiencies and sins);
- Imploring Allah earnestly with a sense of urgency and insistence;
- Determined in One’s Request (Not saying, ‘O Allah! If You will, then please forgive me’);
- Using Proper Names and Attributes of Allah;
- Repeating the Du’aa Three Times;
- Praying with Concise Du’aas;
- Praying for the entire Muslim ummah; and
- Saying ‘Amin’ at the end.
Long Answer: The response of a du’aa depends on the Will of Allah, and He responds to whom He pleases. However, without a doubt, the person who strives to fulfill and put into practice all of these factors will have a much greater chance of having his du’aa answered.
lbn al-Qayyim writes: “Du’aa and the seeking of protection from Allah are like weapons, but the sharpness of a weapon is not sufficient for it to cause effect, for the person that handles it also plays a role. So whenever the weapon is a perfect one, having no blemish in it, and the forearm is strong, and there are no preventing factors, then it will cause an effect on the enemy. But if any of these three factors are missing, then the effect will also be lessened. So, if the du’aa in and of itself is not correct, or the person making the du’aa has not combined between his heart and tongue in the du’aa, or if there is a preventing factor, then the desired effect will not occur.” (Al-Da’ wa al-Dawa’)
Pre-conditions needed for du’aa:
- The realization that only Allah responds to du’aa: This is the essence of tawheed. A person must believe fully that only Allah is capable of hearing his prayer and only Allah has the power to grant him what he desires. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Who (else is there) that responds to the call of the one in distress when he calls out, and He removes evil (from him), and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is there any other god besides Allah? Little is it that you remember!” (Surah an-Naml, 27:62) This is why du’aa is the greatest form of worship and, if directed to other than Allah, the greatest form of shirk as well.
- Sincerity in Du’aa to Allah Alone: The proof for this condition is found in many Qur’anic verses and ahadith. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Those whom you call upon besides Allah are slaves like yourselves.” (Soorah Al-A’raf, 7:194); “And those who you ask besides Him can neither come to your aid nor can they help themselves!” (Soorah Al-A’raf, 7:197) The meaning of the phrase “… besides Allah..” includes everything that is worshipped besides the Creator, from lifeless objects like idols or the sun to trees, animals, men, a pious person, a prophet, an angel, or any other object besides.
- Lack of Hastiness: To be hasty in one’s prayer is a cause of rejection of the du’aa. The du’aa should be continuous, and a person should avoid giving up du’aa just because it has not been responded to. Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “You will be responded to as long as you are not hasty, meaning that (a person) says, ‘I have prayed and prayed, and my prayer has not be answered.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, and others) The hastiness that is prohibited is that a person leaves du’aa, thinking that he will not be responded to. However, there is no harm in asking Allah to respond to the du’aa quickly.
- Du’aa for Things that are Good: In order for the du’aa to be accepted by Allah, it is essential that it must be for something pure and good. Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The du’aa of any worshipper will continue to be responded to, as long as he does not ask for a sin or breaking the ties of kinship…” (Narrated by Muslim)
- To Have Good Intentions: It is imperative that a person making du’aa has the best of intentions for whatever he is asking. So, if someone asks for an increase in wealth, he should intend with that that he spend more on his relatives and the poor and increase in reward in this manner. Likewise, if someone asks that Allah bless him with a pious spouse, his intention should be so that he can avoid falling into prohibited acts and begin a pious family.
- The Presence of an Attentive Heart: The whole point of du’aa is that a person calls out with a sincere heart to his Creator. This sincerity cannot be achieved if one calls out heedlessly without earnestness. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Make du’aa to Allah in a state that you are certain that your du’aa will be responded to, and know that Allah does not respond to a du’aa that originates from a negligent, inattentive heart.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Hakim, and authenticated by al-Albani)
- Purity of One’s Sustenance: Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “O People! Allah is al-Tayyib (Pure), and He only accepts that which is pure! Allah has commanded the Believers what He has commanded the Messengers, for He said, “O Messengers! Eat from the pure foods, and do right”. Furthermore, He said: “O you who believe! Eat from the pure and good foods We have given you”. Then the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) mentioned a traveler on a long journey, who is disheveled and dusty, and he stretches forth his hands to the sky, saying, “O my Lord! 0 my Lord!” – while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and he is nourished unlawfully; how can he be answered?” (Reported by Ahmad, Muslim, and al-Tirmidhi) Therefore, among the necessary conditions for any du’aa to be accepted is the purity and lawfulness of one’s food.
- The Du’aa Does not Interfere with Something More Important: Acts of worship can be divided into two categories: those that have a specific time and those that can be done at any time. Du’aa is of the second category in that there is no specific time of the day in which it is restricted. However, prayer (Salat) is of the first category. Therefore, it is not correct to engage in an act of worship that can be done at any time (for example, du’aa) at the expense of an act of worship that has a specific time (for example, Salat). Likewise, if a person is making du’aa, and his parents call him for any assistance, then responding to his parents takes precedence over du’aa.
Etiquettes of Du’aa
- Praising Allah before the Du’aa, and Praying upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): Fudhalah ibn ‘Ubayd (رضي الله عنه) narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was once sitting in the mosque when a person entered and prayed two raka’ats. After he finished, he said, “O Allah, forgive me and have mercy on me!” The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “You have been hasty, O worshipper! When you finish your prayer, then sit down and praise Allah with the praise that He is worthy of, and pray upon me, then state your du’aa.” After that, another man prayed, and then praised Allah and prayed upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to him: “O worshipped, Make your du’aa, and it will be answered!”
- Raising One’s Hands: Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “As for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), raising his hands in du’aa, then this has been narrated in so many ahadith that they cannot be counted!” (Al-Du’aa wa Manzilatahu min al-Aqidah al-Islamiyah, by Dr. Jilan al-Arusi) Salman al-Farsi (رضي الله عنه) said that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Indeed, Allah is Shy and Beneficent. He is Shy when His servant raises his hands to Him (in a du’aa) to return them empty, disappointed” (Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and others; authenticated by al-Albani)
It is important that one’s palms face upwards and not the back of one’s hands. Malik ibn Yasar (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “If you ask Allah, then ask him with the palms of your hands outwards, and not with the outward portion of the hands (i.e., with the palms facing down)” (Narrated by Abu Dawud, lbn Majah, al-Tabarani, and al-Hakim; authenticated by al-Albani)
Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said: “The asking (of any du’aa should be accompanied by) raising your hands to the level of your shoulder, or around that level. The seeking of forgiveness (istighfar) (should be accompanied by) pointing with one finger (i.e., the forefinger). Petitioning (is done by) stretching forth your hands totally (above the head, such that the armpits are exposed) [such as when asking for rain after a drought, or seeking protection from an imminent enemy attack.].” (Authentic, narrated by Abu Dawud)
- Facing the Qiblah: It has been authentically narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would face the qiblah when making du’aa. ‘Abdullah ibn Zayd (رضي الله عنه) narrated: “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) left (Madinah) to this prayer place, seeking rain. So he made a du’aa and asked for rain, then he faced the qiblah and turned his cloak inside-out” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- Performing Wudu: This is confirmed in the hadith of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari in which he stated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) after the Battle of Bunayn, called for water, performed wudu, then raised his hands and [made dua’a]….” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- To Cry: One of the ways in which sincerity is shown in du’aa is through crying. This brings about a feeling of humility in front of Allah and shows the importance of one’s request.
- To Pray with Humility and Fear: Allah says in the Qur’an: “Call upon your Lord with humility, and in secret. Verily, He does not like the aggressors.” (Soorah Al-A’raf, 7:55)
- To Pray Quietly: Once, the Companions were traveling and loudly engaging in dhikr (remembrance of Allah). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “O people! Be gentle on yourselves, for you are not calling someone who is deaf or absent. Rather, you are calling the One Who hears everything, Ever-Close” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) stated: ”A silent du’aa is seventy times better than a loud one!” (Narrated by Ibn al-Mubarak in his al-Zuhd) Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah delved into the wisdom of making du’aa silently and mentioned a number of benefits to this (Paraphrased from Majmu al-Fatawa):
- It is a sign of strong iman;
- It is a sign of respect and manners in front of Allah;
- It is a means of achieving humility and humbleness;
- It is a means of achieving sincerity;
- It aids the heart in concentrating on the du’aa;
- It is a means of strengthening the relationship that the believer should have with Allah;
- It prevents a person from being the target of envy and jealousy.
- Acknowledging One’s Sins: The best du’aa in which a person can ask for forgiveness contains a pure and sincere acknowledgment of one’s deficiencies and sins. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The sayyid al-istighfar (the best du’aa to ask for forgiveness) is that a person says: O Allah! You are my Lord; there is no one worthy of worship except You. You created me, and I am your slave. And I am (following) Your covenant and Promise as much as I can. I seek Your refuge in the evil that I have done. I acknowledge Your favors upon me, and I acknowledge my sins. So forgive me, since no one forgives sins except You” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
- To Implore Allah Earnestly: Continued within the etiquette of du’aa is that a person implore Allah and beseech Him. This sense of urgency is demonstrated in the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) reported that when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was afflicted with magic, he made du’aa, then he made du’aa, then he made du’aa. (Reported by Muslim) This incident demonstrates a sense of urgency and insistence that is needed while making du’aa.
- To be determined in One’s Request: Anas ibn Malik (رضي الله عنه) narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “When one of you makes a du’aa, then let him be firm and determined in his du’aa, and let him not say, ‘O Allah! If You will, then please forgive me’, for there is no one who can force Allah to do anything” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- To Use the Proper Names and Attributes of Allah: One should use the Names that are appropriate to the concept of forgiveness, such as al-Tawwab (the One who continually accepts Repentance), al-Ghaffar (the One who continually Forgives), al-Rahim (the Ever-Merciful); and when one is asking for sustenance, one should use Allah’s Name al-Razzaq (the One who Provides), and al-Ghani (the One who Gives and is not in need of anything). Whatever a person is asking for, there will be an appropriate Divine Name or Attribute that he can use.
One of the best ways to praise Allah is by using His Greatest Name. Buraydah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) heard a person say: “O Allah! I ask you, by virtue of the fact that I testify that You are Allah, there is no deity except You, the One, whom all the Creation turns to for help, who does not beget and is not begotten, and there is none equivalent to Him!” He (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “This person has asked Allah by His Greatest Name, which if He is asked with, He gives, and if He is petitioned with (i.e., a du’aa), He answers” (Authentic, narrated by Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi)
Imam al-Tibi said, explaining this hadith: “This hadith shows that Allah has a Great Name (al-Ism al-A’zam), and if He is called by this name, He responds, as is mentioned in the hadith. Other ahadith have also mentioned examples of the Ism al-A’zam, and in those narrations, there are names not mentioned in this hadith, except that the Name ‘Allah’ occurs in all of these narrations. By this, it can be inferred that this Name (i.e., Allah) is the al-Ism al-A’zam” (Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi)
- To Repeat the Du’aa Three Times: The act of repeating a du’aa thrice is narrated in many ahadith from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Anas ibn Malik also reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever asks for Paradise three times, Paradise says: ‘O Allah! Enter him into Paradise’ And whoever seeks refuge from the Hellfire three times, the Hellfire says: ‘O Allah! Save him from the Hellfire!’“ (Authentic, narrated by al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i, and al-Hakim)
- To Pray with Concise Du’aas: ‘Concise’ du’aas are those which are brief yet contain many meanings, ask for general benefits, and seek refuge in general evils. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to pray frequently with concise du’aas, and he was the one who had been given the most eloquent and concise of words. ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “… used to love concise du’aas, and he would leave all (du’aas) besides those”. (Authentic, narrated by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, lbn Hibban, and others)
- To Pray for All Muslims: Part of the completeness of one’s iman is that a person loves for his brother what he loves for himself. Therefore, just as he desires that he be guided to the truth, and be forgiven for his sins, so too should he desire the same for his fellow Muslims. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever seeks forgiveness for the believing men and women, then a good deed will be written for him for every single believing man and women (that he prayed for)”. (Reported by al-Tabarani in his al-Kabir, and al-Haythami said in Majma’ al-Zawa’id: “Its isnad (chain of transmission) is good.”) So it is encouraged for the Muslim to remember all of his brothers and sisters when he is making a du’aa, and to pray for the entire Muslim ummah.
- To Say ‘Amin‘: When a person is listening to another person make du’aa, it is recommended that he say, ‘Amin‘, which means ‘O Allah! Accept (or: Respond to) this du’aa.’ There is a difference of opinion on whether one should say ‘Amin‘ after one’s own du’aa, but it seems that the general rule of ‘Amin‘ does not differentiate between a person’s own du’aa and when a person is listening to another’s du’aa, so it is permissible for a person to say ‘Amin’, after his own du’aa. (Tashih Al-Du’aa, by Bakr Abu Zayd)
(The above excerpt is the concise version of the Chapters ‘The Pre-Conditions of Du’a’ and ‘The Etiquette of Du’a’ from the book ‘Du’a – The Weapon of the Believer’ by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.